This past week in our lesson we considered how we are to live as we are Waiting for Our King to Return. Over the past nine weeks, we have seen that God’s word is not simply a disconnected set of random pieces of literature by unrelated authors. Though it covers broad ground in terms of genre, writing style, authorship, chronology, and content, every chapter and book also contributes to the story of God who created a people for His glory and for relationship with Him, and who is at work to redeem them and restore them to fellowship with Himself after they (we!) broke fellowship with Him through our sinful rebellion. Because of His great mercy and compassion, man’s sin was not the end of the story.
We’ve learned that God’s word is His revelation of himself to us, that all creation was created by God as good, that man’s willful sin destroyed that goodness, and that God has been working throughout history using various means (patriarchs, oppressors, priests, judges, kings, prophets, and then some!) to point us to our need for salvation and to fulfill His promise to provide the One who would accomplish that salvation: His son, Jesus Christ. Since the accomplishment of our salvation in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has been about the business of building His church on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets (Eph. 2:20), with Christ as the cornerstone; he is this in both his completed work on the cross and his present, active intercession on our behalf at the right hand of the Father. Not only that, but he returned to the Father that he might send us a helper, the promised Holy Spirit of God, to indwell us. No longer slaves to sin, we have new identities as children of the living God! Consider just some of what scripture says is true of us who believe in Christs’s work on our behalf:
– You are a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17)
– You are (part of) a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession. (1 Peter 2:9)
– You are a living stone being built up with other believers into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5)
– You are redeemed and forgiven according to the riches of God’s grace. (Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14)
– You are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of your inheritance in Christ. (Eph. 1:14)
– You are seated with Christ Jesus in the heavenly places. (Eph. 2:6)
– You are the workmanship of God, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and created for good works which God prepared beforehand. (Eph. 1:4, 2:10)
– You are a child of God. (John 1:12, Gal. 3:26, Romans 8:16)
– You are a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15)
– You are justified by faith and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
– You are a member of the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
– You are a child of God and a fellow heir with Christ (provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him). (Romans 8:17)
– You are God’s temple and God’s spirit dwells in you. (1 Cor. 3:16)
– You are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3)
– You are an ambassador for Christ, reconciled to God through Christ and entrusted with the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:18-20)
– You have in Jesus Christ a high priest who is able to sympathize with your weakness and lives to make intercession for you. (Heb. 4:14-15, 7:25)
– You are welcomed and encouraged to approach the throne of grace with confidence to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)
– You have boldness and access [to God] with confidence through faith in Christ. (Eph. 3:12)
– You have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the beloved Son of God. (Col. 1:13)
– You have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
– You are born again of imperishable seed through the living and abiding word of God. (1 Peter 1:23)
– Your old self was crucified with Christ so that you are no longer enslaved to sin; you are set free from sin. (Ro. 6:6-7)
– You are not subject to condemnation in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
– You have eternal life. (John 3:16, 1 John 5:13)
– Your new self is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:24)
This isn’t even an exhaustive list! But what do we DO with it? Are we simply to bask in the enjoyment of our new identity? Of course not! We are to live and walk in it!! Courtney Doctor has reminded us that the story of redemption is an unfolding drama in which we are not merely observers, but participants. Consider the bullet-pointed truths above essential truths and traits that you and I need to embody to play our part as we go about our work of “faithful improvisation.” If we need to know the background on our role, this is a good start! All that we say, do, and think as we participate in this drama should flow from God’s declaration in his word of who we ARE by faith in Jesus Christ.
So how do we go about living and walking in our new identities?
– We give ourselves to being conformed to the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29)
– We present our bodies as living sacrifices, being transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we may be able to discern what is the will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
– We proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
– We put off the sins that belong to our old nature, and put on the qualities of the new nature that is ours in Christ. (Colossians 3:5-17, Eph. 4:17 – 5:21)
– We walk by the Spirit, not gratifying the desires of the flesh, but bearing the fruit of the Spirit in all of our relationships and circumstances. (Gal. 5:16-26)
– We take care that our words are truthful, not corrupting, crude, or foolish, and that they build up, fit the occasion, and give grace to those who hear them. (Eph 4:25, 29, 5:4)
– We are prepared and look for opportunities to give a reason for the hope that we have, doing so with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
– We are quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
– We love, serve, submit, obey, look to the interests of others as well as our own, cultivate gratitude, pray, rejoice, contribute to the needs of the saints, love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, confess our sins, consider those whose faith is weak, put no hindrance in the way of a brother (or sister), show hospitality…
There is plenty to do, dear sisters, but this doing is wholly unlike us attempting to tackle our never-ending to-do lists! It is a result of walking in the freedom and identity that Christ has provided for us; it is our response to Christ Jesus, our savior. Consider Jesus’s invitation:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Pursue reconciliation, remembering that the most solid ground for human reconciliation is our reconciliation with God through Christ.
Pursue peace, recognizing that the only peace in which we can have complete confidence is peace with God, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Pursue the flourishing of others, desiring them to flourish for eternity through salvation, which confers blessing upon blessing for both this life and the one to come.
Pursue holiness, righteousness, faith, and love. Pursue your Savior, who pursued you first, and proclaim him by speaking the truth of Him to all!